Three-parent baby born in first clinical trial ever to test the technique: Female, 32, who had 4 unsuccessful IVF attempts welcomes healthy 6lb boy
- The 32-year-old Greek woman had four failed IVF attempts before hearing about the trial in Spain
- Experts warn that it raises questions about the use of the technique for fertility instead of disease
- Legal experts say it is putting pressure on US lawmakers to reconsider their ban on the procedure
- As more investigations open worldwide, American parents can turn to medical tourism
In the first clinical trial, a woman gave birth to a “three-parent baby” to test the controversial procedure.
The 32-year-old Greek woman had four failed IVF attempts before hearing about the trial by Spanish doctors.
The Barcelona-based team used a technique called maternal spindle transfer (MST) to put DNA from one of its eggs into a donor’s egg before it was fertilized with sperm.
On Wednesday, the team announced that the woman had a 6.5-pound child on April 9 at 7:46 am, and both mother and baby are in good health.
The milestone has been hailed as a breakthrough that could address infertility problems in women while preserving the mother’s genetic material.
But an ethics professor from the University of Oxford asked the ethics of playing with infertility genes instead of treating genetic disorders.
The 32-year-old Greek woman had four failed IVF attempts before hearing about the trial in Spain. Experts warn that it raises questions about the use of the technique for fertility instead of disease
“The most important ethical issue (or one of the major problems) that will arise from this Spanish / Greek venture is whether the use of MSTs for the treatment of infertility that is not related to mitochondrial disease is morally acceptable,” said Professor César Palacios-González.
The leader of the process, Dr. Nuno Costa-Borges, co-founder of Embryotools from Barcelona, maintains that the procedure is much less sinister than critics fear.
He says it looks like egg donation, but in this case 99 percent of the baby’s genes come from his mother and father, and only one percent from a third party.
“For some patients it is very difficult to accept that they cannot get pregnant with their own patients [eggs],’ he said.
“Spindle transfer can mean a new era in the IVF field because it can give these patients chances for a genetically related child.”
The spindle transfer method was implemented by Embryotools and the Institute of Life clinic based in Athens.
Dr. Panagiotis Psathas, president of the Institute of Life, greeted birth as a medical milestone.
‘Today, for the first time in the world, the inalienable right of a woman to become a mother with her own genetic material has become reality.
“As Greek scientists, we are very proud to announce an international innovation in assisted reproduction, and we are now able to enable women with multiple IVF disorders or rare mitochondrial genetic diseases to have a healthy child.
“At the Institute of Life, we want to help even more couples with fertility problems to have children with their own DNA, without recourse to egg donors.”
Legal experts warn that the process is putting more pressure on the US to rethink their ban on mitochondrial replacement as more countries open the door for prospective parents around the world.
I. Glenn Cohen, professor of health law at Harvard, may have warned American parents about treatment elsewhere, and it will not be clear how many three-parent babies are in the country.
How the maternal spindle transfer is performed
“There is simply no way for a country to truly isolate itself from changes through mitochondrial replacement therapy that enters a country’s gene pool,” Cohen said STAT.
Two three-parent babies have been born using MRT since the procedure was invented, one in Mexico and one in Ukraine – both caused global controversy.
Mitochondrial replacement therapy was first invented in 2009 in animal testing at Oregon Health and Science University.
But in 2015, the US banned its use for human pregnancies for fear that it might be a slippery slope to genetic modification.
In the same year, the UK gave the procedure the green light and published guidelines on how to use it.
And last year scientists in Newcastle were given permission to make the first three-parent babies of Great Britain for two women with hereditary genetic disorders.